Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Apologies for the extended silence. After a very uninspired week I had grand Saturday plans involving a lot of baking and my first ever attempt at making pasta. However, a phone call stopped it all (except the baking but more on that shortly) in its tracks and instead we jumped in the car and headed north for the night. After a boozy night in Kinross we headed to Loch Leven castle to sit in the sun and finished off the day with fish and chips on the waterfront at Anstruther in Fife.

Luckily before we left I managed to get the planned and necessary baking done. I know that baking doesn't seem like the most obvious urgent task but for the past few months I have been baking cakes to sell at work. I am taking part in the Moonwalk in Edinburgh on June 16th along with three workmates and the cakes are a small part of our fundraising efforts. As Team Cupcake we are making the most of our name by baking (and eating) lots of cakes and will be wearing decorated cupcake bras on the night (not just for fun, it is one of the requirements of the walk), I may even let you see the final design. So, I made a chocolate and banana loaf using the recipe from 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess' and a gingerbread cake using Nigel Slater's recipe in 'The Kitchen Diaries'. We also had passionfruit cake, lamingtons, anzac biscuits, and chocolate brownies. I'll be baking more for Tuesday so if anyone has any great ideas feel free to share.

Friday, 11 May 2007


Anna tagged me for the '5 things you may not know about me' meme. I decided to keep it food related as, let's face it, there are a million and one non food things that you don't know about me; my misery about The OC getting cancelled (and my crush on Adam Brody), my absolute hatred of U2 (you don't need to tell me just how alone I am on this one), and the fact that I was scared of the people on my wallpaper when I was very small. Anyway, now that I have given away a few non food things here goes:

:1: When I was about seven I pulled out a tooth on a wham bar (a chewy lurid pink bar embedded with fizzy E numbered stuff). One minute it was there and the next I had a hole in my gum and a tooth stuck in the bar.

:2: When I was five a neighbour said they would give me a Cadbury's Wispa (why oh why have these been discontinued...) if I tasted a strawberry. I took a tiny bite, spat it out and then demanded my Wispa.

:3: The first (underage) drink I ever ordered in a pub was a bottle of K cider. I don't even like cider but I wanted to sound like I knew what I was doing when I went to the bar and this is what my friend was drinking.

:4: I hate full fat milk. I love single cream, double cream, whipped cream, clotted cream, and any other creams but I can't stomach full fat milk.

:5: Finally, as a neat link into something else and definitely something no one but me knew until now, here is what my fridge looked like when I went home for lunch today.

Sam posted an unedited photo of her fridge last week and since then bloggers have been opening up their fridge doors to the world. So, the 100% honest contents of my fridge are as follows:

Top shelf :: leftover wild garlic pesto, Bonne Maman apricot jam, Bonne Maman wild blueberry jam, Duchy's Originals strawberry jam, goose fat, houmous, Philadelphia, tuscan flavoured apericubes (a gift), 1 Cadbury's light chocolate mousse.

2nd shelf :: milano salami, Keen's Cheddar, Cropwell Bishop white stilton, feta, halloumi, parmesan, selection of mini French cheeses, Sussex slipcote ewe's milk cheese, 5 large organic eggs.

3rd shelf :: low fat probiotic strawberry yoghurt drinks, 4 organic cooking chorizos, marinated anchovy fillets, Lurpak butter, skimmed milk.

4th shelf :: 1 bottle of peroni lager, 1 bottle of Sauternes, an open jar of passata that needs to be thrown away, a carton of passata, Tropicana, semi-skimmed milk, oak leaf lettuce in the foil covered bowl, 2 open jars of Sacla pesto, cornichons, caperberries, 2 squeezy tubes of Hellman's mayonnaise, 1 squeezy tube of low fat Hellman's mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce, scotch bonnet chilli sauce, squeezy bottle of chilli sauce, ketchup.

5th shelf :: out of date puff pastry (oops), 2 bottles of tonic water for G&T, 1 bottle of bitter lemon for tequila and bitter lemon (yum), 1 bottle of Corbieres white wine.

Drawers :: asparagus, spinach, red onions, onions, carrots, wild garlic, mint, chillis, ginger, garlic, spring onions, 1 lemon.

And in the door we have :: unsalted butter, Cornish butter, garlic, mint jelly, wholegrain mustard with Irish whiskey, Irish relish, porcini pate, English mustard, 2 open jars of Maille Dijon mustard, homemade harissa (not homemade by me, a gift from a friend made to his grandmother's recipe), Zabar's coffee beans (a gift from New York), Fairtrade ground coffee, Hardys Pinot Noir Chardonnnay bubbles, 2 bottles of Corbieres (one open and almost empty), 1 bottle of Fuller's organic Honeydew beer, skimmed milk.


Thursday, 10 May 2007


I was staying with my parents at the weekend enjoying a few days of doing very little. Unfortunately, the near constant glorious weather they've been having decided to do a runner just in time for my arrival but I guess being able to relax and sit in the sun was just too much to hope for. While I was away Chris phoned to say that, following our success with wild garlic last week, his friend and workmate Scott had announced that he knows a great spot for picking these pungent leaves and had presented him with a huge bagful for our enjoyment. After waking up at the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning to get my flight back to Edinburgh I wasn't much in the mood for cooking so yesterday was the first opportunity to make a dent in our bounty.

Following a good root about online I found Gastronomy Domine and a recipe for chicken wrapped in wild garlic and pancetta. I planned on just making a slight variation on this with some salad and new potatoes but then started wondering whether there was scope to make some kind of salsa verde or other accompaniment for the potatoes using the wild garlic. After more rummaging around I fell upon a recipe for sauce verte in 'How to Eat'. As far as I can tell this is just supposed to be a slightly mustardy mayonnaise with added herbs but Nigella suggests adding capers and cornichons to make it more akin to a mayonnaise bound salsa verde. I used caperberries as we had no capers and (putting my hands up to a mayonnaise crime) I used Hellman's as we always have it in the fridge. The chicken stayed tender and juicy inside and the combination of crisp bacon, garlic leaves and chicken was definitely one to be repeated and adapted for the many non wild garlic months. The sauce was sharp from the caperberries and cornichons and a great thing to quickly whip up as an alternative to plain mayo or salsa verde. I think that flat leaf parsley may stand up a little better than the wild garlic to being paired with such strong flavours but it still worked well, so give it a go and see what you think.

serves 2

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
about 8 large wild garlic leaves
6 rashers of bacon
a little olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200° C. Lay out the rashers of bacon in two sets so that three rashers are snugly nestled up to each other. Top each set with four wild garlic leaves and a chicken breast. Season with black pepper and tuck the ends of the bacon around the chicken. Place the chicken into an oven dish presentation side up. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ends where the chicken breast is peeking through so these don't dry out. Cook for 30 minutes, turning halfway so that the bacon becomes crispy all round. Serve with the sauce verte, new potatoes, and a green salad.

serves 2

3 tbsp of finely chopped wild garlic leaves
2 tsp of finely chopped cornichons
2 tsp of finely chopped caperberries
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp of dijon mustard
enough mayonnaise to mix all of the ingredients into a thick sauce
a little extra virgin olive oil to slacken the mixture, just add it slowly until it is at the right consistency for you

Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl adjusting the seasoning and quantities of mayonnaise and oil as required.

Now I just have to work out how to use the remaining 50 leaves...

Thursday, 3 May 2007


I was very suspicious of vegetables as a child. Actually I was suspicious of most things as a child, so cautious of new things that my Mum had to hang new clothes in my wardrobe so I could get used to them before I would wear them (I'm making up for that now). Anyway, if it wasn't potatoes, carrots, peas, or sweetcorn then I wasn't about to eat it. Then, one day, asparagus became a part of this list for one simple reason - melted butter. My grandparents would occasionally come to stay during prime asparagus season and they would go to one of the local farm shops and would buy gorgeous fresh asparagus. They would boil it until it was just cooked and then we would have it with lashings of melted butter. I think there is something to be said for getting children to eat vegetables by serving them with melted butter but I'm not sure the cardiologists of the world would agree. So, after many years of eating asparagus I wait all year for the British season. I don't want year round asparagus from Peru, I want British asparagus in May and June and I want lots of it. Last night my first asparagus of the season was served with a side order of chicken and Jersey Royal potatoes. I put some butter on the asparagus and I ate spear after spear after spear. My future asparagus encounters this season might be a little more restrained, but only a little.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007


Last week, when I was in Valvona's (our local Italian deli) buying a sandwich for lunch, I had a look at the fresh produce and spied some bags of wild garlic leaves, or ransoms. I knew that I wasn't going to get around to much cooking when I saw them - hence the conspicuous lack of any posts - so I left them behind with the intention of heading back for them before the season came to an end. After a bit of online research into what to do with the leaves I went back yesterday and bought two bags, some pine nuts, a new block of parmesan, and a packet of gnocchi ready to make wild garlic pesto to serve with gnocchi. The finished pesto initially smelled like a garlicky freshly mown lawn which is much nicer than it sounds and, when we added it to the gnocchi, the taste of garlic was definitely but subtley there (I say this as a garlic addict so please accept my unreserved apologies if you make this and it blows your head off). I made way too much for just the two of us so am planning pasta with wild garlic pesto for dinner tonight. So, if you see wild garlic leaves in the greengrocer (or know what they look like in the wild) give it a shot. I'll give you the quantities for the amount I made which is enough for at least four servings on pasta or gnocchi with a little leftover for spreading on sandwiches or eating with boiled potatoes.


about 50g of wild garlic leaves (thickest part of the stalks removed)
50g of pine nuts
2 tbsp of grated parmesan
extra virgin olive oil to loosen
salt and pepper to taste

Either finely chop the wild garlic leaves and pine nuts or blitz them in a food processor. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the parmesan before adding enough extra virgin olive oil to loosen the mixture. Taste and season as required before adding to gnocchi.